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On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies : Evidence from Colonial Railroads in Nigeria

Author

Listed:
  • Dozie Okoye

    () (Department of Economics, Dalhousie University)

  • Roland Pongou

    () (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa)

  • Tite Yokossi

    () (Department of Economics, MIT)

Abstract

We examine Fogel’s influential hypothesis that new transportation technologies may be dispensable if pre-existing technologies are viable or can simply be improved. Exploiting the construction of colonial railroads in Nigeria, we find that the railway has large long-lasting impacts on individual and local development in the North, but virtually no impact in the South neither in the short run nor in the long run. This heterogeneous impact of the railway can be accounted for by the level of pre-railway access to ports of export. Consistent with Fogel’s argument, the railway did not transform areas that had viable transportation alternatives for exporting purposes. Using information on changes in shipping costs and quantities, we highlight the importance of opportunity costs to the adoption and impact of new transportation investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Dozie Okoye & Roland Pongou & Tite Yokossi, 2016. "On the Dispensability of New Transportation Technologies : Evidence from Colonial Railroads in Nigeria," Working Papers 1620E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ott:wpaper:1620e
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    1. Elise Huillery, 2009. "History Matters: The Long-Term Impact of Colonial Public Investments in French West Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 176-215, April.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    3. Julia Cagé & Valeria Rueda, 2016. "The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in Sub-Saharan Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 69-99, July.
    4. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland, 2015. "Sea Change: The Competing Long-Run Impacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Missionary Activity in Africa," MPRA Paper 66221, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Remi Jedwab & Alexander Moradi, 2016. "The Permanent Effects of Transportation Revolutions in Poor Countries: Evidence from Africa," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 268-284, May.
    6. Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin, 2012. "Portage and Path Dependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 587-644.
    7. Adam Storeygard, 2016. "Farther on down the Road: Transport Costs, Trade and Urban Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 1263-1295.
    8. Johan Fourie and Alfonso Herranz-Loncan & Alfonso Herranz-Loncan, 2015. "Growth (and Segregation) by Rail: How the Railways Shaped Colonial South Africa," Working Papers 538, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    9. Pritha Dev & Blessing U. Mberu & Roland Pongou, 2016. "Ethnic Inequality: Theory and Evidence from Formal Education in Nigeria," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 603-660.
    10. Remi Jedwab & Edward Kerby & Alexander Moradi, 2014. "History, Path Dependence and Development: Evidence from Colonial Railroads, Settlers and Cities in Kenya," Working Papers 2014-02, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    11. Warren Whatley & Rob Gillezeau, 2011. "The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Ethnic Stratification in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 571-576, May.
    12. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
    13. Okoye, Dozie & Pongou, Roland, 2014. "Historical Missionary Activity, Schooling, and the Reversal of Fortunes: Evidence from Nigeria," MPRA Paper 58052, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fogel’s Hypothesis; Colonial Investments; Railway; Africa; Development; Nigeria;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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